Report: Blacks in Missouri 68% more likely to be stopped by officers

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt's office released the 2021 annual report on police traffic stops across the state. It showed that black drivers were 68%
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office released the 2021 annual report on police traffic stops across the state. It showed that Black drivers were 68% more likely to be pulled over by an officer.

Concern over bias in police traffic stops led to the passage of a law requiring the collection of data on traffic stops since 2000. The annual reports have consistently shown a disparity in traffic stops for African American drivers.

Rick Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at The University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL), said, “What stands out to me is how remarkably similar the major indicators are, year after year.”

The report uses data from 521 law enforcement agencies across Missouri. While Blacks make up 11% of the state’s population, 18% of the traffic stops in 2021 involved Black drivers.

Democratic state representative Rasheen Aldridge of St. Louis said he’s been involved in discussions about Blacks being pulled over more often by police since he served on the Ferguson Commission in 2014. He said the higher rate damages the relationship between police and the Black community and threatens to cause significant life-changing problems for low-income drivers.

“Not only does it not help the relationship and it puts people in a very long spiral of not being able to pay these offenses and eventually they get a warrant out for their arrest, and then they get locked up and they lose their job,” he said.

Sgt. Donnell Walters, President of the Ethical Society of Police, said there’s an explanation for the disparity in some of the numbers coming from St. Louis.

“The numbers show the disparity because the city’s elected officials request additional traffic enforcement in north St. Louis, which is predominantly Black, because of speeding, and careless and reckless driving,” he said.

Rosenfeld said the report showed blacks are ticketed and arrested at a slightly higher rate, but that it doesn’t explain the large disparity in stops.

The report also found that traffic stops were up 5% in 2021 but down 20% from 2019, before the pandemic. It also found that arrests were up 9% from 2020, but 34% lower than in 2019.

The attorney general’s report on traffic stops can be found here.